The state of legal marketing is in constant flux. New strategies emerge, opportunities arise, and tech continues to disrupt even the most established business practices. You can’t make changes if you don’t see them coming, which is why every year we bring together leading marketing strategists and technologists to discuss their thoughts on the most important marketing trends. Back in January, our experts predicted that we would be in for a disruptive year. They weren’t wrong, but with half of the year already behind us, I wonder which of these predicted trends you feel has come to pass and which trends have taken unexpected turns in your market?
Top trends and prediction for 2017 included marketing automation, structured data for SEO, focused hiring of industry experts within marketing, opportunities related to sponsored content, adoption of CRM systems, changes within directories and increased focus on marketing & BD within the professional development curriculum.
A short excerpt from some of the contributors can be found below or you can read the full 2017 Legal Marketing Trends.
Marketing Automation in Law Firms
“With constantly improving technology, the legal sector has the potential to optimize its marketing activities through the tools of automation. Freeing up resources of time and money will lead to a happier, more productive team. It will also allow marketers to quantify their impact on the firm by demonstrating that they are an essential piece of the business opportunity life cycle.”
Matt Parfitt— President, Vuture U.S. VutureGroup
Legal marketing, business development and communications hiring
“In 2016, we saw the beginning of a new trend for law firms where they are starting to consider updating their go-to market strategy from being a one stop shop for all practice areas, to having an intentional focus on select industries.”
Jennifer Scalzi— President J. Johnson Executive Search, Inc
Law Firm Media Relations
“In today’s fast-paced world, smart legal professionals understand the benefit of being recognized as subject matter experts and influencers in our trusted publications. In that context, savvy lawyers in both private practice and in-house are making themselves readily available to the journalists who write for our magazines and websites. Sources who speak to us aid us in getting timely content to market fast but it also helps those lawyers and firms in achieving much desired profile.”
Karen Lorimer— Director/Group Publisher of Thomson Reuters Media Solutions, Canada
Structured Data, Schema and Rich Snippets—the new frontier for Law Firm Website SEO
“If implemented correctly Schema can have a big impact on your rankings. However this is primarily an indirect effect at the moment. Rich snippets in SERPs can have a big impact on organic click through rates (CTR’s), and it’s well known that CTR’s is an organic ranking factor. When you see event data or review data within a search result, aren’t you more compelled to click those results?
So why should law firms care that much. Well firstly, like the mobile friendly ranking update that was launched in 2014, Google is now starting to give some pretty strong hint that schema will become a direct ranking factor in 2017. Also, with little or no competition from other law firms implementing Schema and Structured data correctly, or at all, it is easy right now to leverage its abilities to standout from your competition and get on page one of a Google SERP.”
Rob Foley— Chief Digital Officer and Partner at fSquared Marketing
Branded and Promotional Items for Law Firms
“In 2017, companies will be rethinking the everyday branded products they order in favor of more sustainable options. Recycled notebooks, bamboo pens, and biodegradable cotton tote bags will be more popular than ever as companies strive to make a positive impact on their customers—and on the environment. “
Jeff Clark—Director of Branded Products, White Paper Office Solutions
Client Relationship Management (CRM)
“The CRM landscape is changing. Driven by increasing competition and in-house innovation, firms are looking to CRM to help them find, win and retain more business, both from clients and prospects. whilst reducing the burden on the attorney and cutting client attrition. CRM is, however, often regarded by many attorneys as a marketing focused application, of little value to them. As such, getting CRM to work for the firm, first requires a change in mindset. The key to this change is the ecosystem of marketing and business development applications that exist around the edge of CRM.”
Andrew Hutchinson— VP of Sales, North America and EMEA, OnePlace
And as for me, I’ve been taking a keen eye on the emphasis being placed on professional development focused on what some would think were the more “soft skills”.
Professional Development Embraces Marketing & Business Development
“I’ve been noticing an uptick in the number of medium and small firms reaching out for help with lawyer business development training and firm strategy. Why now? For one, the legal market is only becoming more competitive. We’ve been hearing this story again and again for the past few years: more lawyers (and therefore law firms) battling it out over ever dwindling legal fees. And then, of course, there is the internet to consider, that disrupting gale of technology, that has made legal advice cheaper, more accessible, and opened up even local and niche markets to increasing competition. You could, perhaps, see business training as another tactic in an ongoing struggle.”
Lynn Foley— CEO of fSquared Marketing
Those are the highlights of trends and predictions shared by legal marketing experts at the start of the year. What do you see as the legal marketing trends of 2017 so far and which do you foresee for next year?